Bay Area Beats | KALW

Bay Area Beats

Bo Walsh / KALW

In this edition of Bay Area Beats, original band member David Bustamante tells the story of Dakila's return to the stage after 40 years.

Zakiya Harris On Music, Motherhood, And Moving On

Jul 31, 2019

Oakland singer-songwriter Zakiya Harris performs under the name Sh8peshifter. She came to that name and her musical career when her personal and professional life fell apart.

Courtesy of Enon Gaines

In this edition of Bay Area Beats, Enon talks about the rush and raw energy in combining hip-hop and punk.

After winning a music competition in 2015, Oakland hip-hop artist Enon Gaines wanted to create a band that could match his energy. He met with musicians with different musical backgrounds and founded the group Unlikely Heroes. They mix hip-hop bars with punk melodies and riffs. 

Steve Drown / Uncuffed

From the series Uncuffed:

Throughout his troubled life, the guitar has been Joseph Kaufman’s constant companion. When he landed in prison, he discovered what he needed to change was with him the entire time.

Tony Lindsay

This summer marks the 20th anniversary of Supernatural- Santana’s wildly successful, Grammy-winning 1999 album, which has become one of the best-selling albums of all-time.  One of the singers on that album was Tony Lindsay, Santana’s lead vocalist from the early ’90s to 2015. In this edition of Bay Area Beats, Tony shares what it means to be a part of the Santana legacy and why he doesn’t plan on retiring any time soon.

Rehabilitation through music for imprisoned pianist

Jun 24, 2019
Steve Drown

From the series Uncuffed:

Maimon Pony’s career as a pianist was cut short by drug addiction. In Solano State Prison, he keeps practicing and waits for his release.

From San Quentin Radio: 

Eric "Maserati E" Abercrombie is a 25-year-old guitarist, singer, and songwriter. He's been in prison for eight years. In August, he’s due to get out.

Courtesy Lydia Pense


Lydia Pense is the lead singer of the San Francisco soul band Cold Blood. They were one of the first acts signed to legendary San Francisco promoter Bill Graham's “Fillmore  Records." In this edition of Bay Area Beats, Pense sat down to share some stories from her long and illustrious career.

Jenee Darden / KALW

In this edition of Bay Area Beats Brittany Tanner, Felicia Gangloff-Bailey, Lauren Adams, and, Karega Bailey of SOL (Source of Light) Development explain using their music as a form of activism and healing.

The Y Axes on blending pop music and science fiction

Apr 9, 2019
Porfirio Rangel

In this edition of Bay Area Beats, Alexi Rose Belchere and Devin Nelson from the Y Axes talk about using science fiction to express emotional concepts and how San Francisco ties into their music.

Ty Tha Artist

This Friday, filmmaker Jordan Peele’s highly anticipated new horror movie “Us” is being released in theatres. The film’s trailer has gotten a lot of attention, especially here in the Bay Area for featuring the song “I Got 5 on It,” which was a hit in the mid-90s for the Oakland rap group The Luniz.

Courtesy of Lisa Forkish

This weekend, a capella music lovers will be gathering in Berkeley for the WeSing Vocal Festival. The three-day event was started by Oakland singer Lisa Forkish who got involved in the a capella music scene during her college years. Her group at that time was the inspiration for the hit film “Pitch Perfect.”

Anthony Pullen / Courtesy of Ruby Mountain

Ruby Mountain is an eclectic singer-songwriter and producer from Oakland. She grew up performing traditional Afghan songs with her father while also experiencing all of the Soul, R&B and Hip Hop that the Bay Area had to offer. 

Kat Robichaud on going from 'The Voice' to cabaret

Feb 28, 2019
Gabe Grabin / KALW

If Freddie Mercury & David Bowie had a star child her name would be Kat Robichaud. She is an over-the-top, theatrical rocker whose career got a boost when she participated on the TV hit “The Voice.”

Courtesy of Tommy Guerrero

San Francisco’s Tommy Guerrero started his career as a professional skateboarder in the 1980s as a member of the legendary Bones Brigade Crew. They were made up of mostly teenagers who introduced a new generation to skateboarding through their recorded highlight videos. It was during those years touring the world that Tommy also pursued his other passion — music.

'Harpist from the Hood' follows path of musical Destiny

Feb 14, 2019
Courtesty of Destiny Muhammad

When she was a child, Stephanie Louis developed a strong connection to the harp after watching a performance on I Love Lucy. But it took decades for her to change her career, city, and even her name to fulfill her passion: music. Today, audiences know her as Destiny Muhammad, the 'Harpist from the Hood'.

Bay Area Beats: Jamie Zee

Feb 12, 2019
Courtesy of Jamie Zee

While studying classical voice at San Francisco's public arts high-school, Jamie Zee felt drawn to jazz music. The genre’s non conformist ethos seemed to mirror Zee’s experience as a half white, half Chinese, bisexual and non binary person.

Bay Area Beats: Chhoti Maa

Feb 5, 2019
Elizabeth Michelini Franco, styled by Vania Michelini Castillo

Rooted in Mexican oral tradition, Chhoti Maa raps, sings, and writes about migration, queerness, and indigenous spirituality. The Oakland based artist talks about her latest album, "Caldo de Hueso," meaning bone broth.

Bay Area Beats: Kim Nalley

Jan 24, 2019
Scott Chernis

In this edition of Bay Area Beats, San Francisco singer Kim Nalley explains how balancing singing with being a historian and Ph.D student has helped her pay tribute to the legends of jazz that have come before her.

San Francisco based singer-songwriter Anna Hillburg has played in countless bands over the past 20 years. In 2013, she released her first solo record and recalls it being a more vibrant time for the San Francisco art community.

Bay Area Beats: Karl Digerness & Minna Choi

Nov 13, 2018
Courtesy of Karl Digerness

Songwriting can be a challenge. So when San Francisco musician Karl Digerness found himself battling writer’s block he started reading the texts from plays written by William Shakespeare for some lyrical inspiration.

Bay Area Beats: Aish

Nov 8, 2018
Ryan Herceg

San Francisco based singer, producer, and composer, Aish came on to the Bay Area music scene this year with the release of his debut album Mother. Combining classical chamber and contemporary electronic music, the record tells the story of Aish’s estranged relationship with his family and details his journey to San Francisco from India seventeen years ago. 

Bay Area Beats: Olivia Lee of There’s Talk

Oct 29, 2018
Courtesy of Olivia Lee

When musician Olivia Lee started her electronic dream pop project, There’s Talk, she wasn’t making music that she thought would ever be released. In this edition of Bay Area Beats, Olivia explains how her childhood love for electronic synthesizers started it all.

Bay Area Beats: Kumu Hulu Patrick Makuakāne

Oct 25, 2018
Courtesy of Nā Lei Hulu I Ka Wēkiu

This year’s San Francisco Arts Commission Legacy Grant award recipient, Patrick Makuakāne began his journey with Hula dancing as a teenager while growing up in Honolulu, Hawaii. After moving to San Francisco in the eighties, Patrick founded Nā Lei Hulu I Ka Wēkiu, an award-winning Hula Dance Company and school in the city where he’s been the Artistic Director for the past 33 years.

Bay Area Beats: Gilberto Rodriguez y Los Intocables

Oct 18, 2018
Fernando Rodriguez

Gilberto Rodriguez y Los Intocables is an eclectic Chicano band that can’t quite be defined by one genre. That’s why they call themselves “Los Intocables” or The Untouchables, a sound defying borders and labels.

Bay Area Beats: Dan Kuramoto of Hiroshima

Oct 15, 2018
Bo Walsh / KALW News

2019 will mark the 40th Anniversary for jazz fusion band Hiroshima. The band started in the late seventies when leader Dan Kuramoto found music as a way to honor his Japanese-American heritage. Creating a signature sound that blended jazz and funk with traditional Japanese instruments; Hiroshima went from being a garage band to becoming one of the first Asian-American groups to get steady airplay on mainstream urban radio. In this edition of Bay Area Beats Dan discusses four decades of Hiroshima.

Bay Area Beats: Del the Funky Homosapien

Oct 10, 2018
Bo Walsh

In 1991 Rapper Del the Funky Homosapien became the first member of Oakland’s Hieroglyphics hip-hop collective be introduced to the world with his debut album “I Wish My Brother George Was Here.” For Del, music has always been a family affair.

Courtesy of Alia Sharrief

A young musician in Oakland is making waves in the Muslim community: Alia Sharrief. She’s part of a new generation of Muslim hip hop artists following in the footsteps of people like Yasiin Bey, best known by his stagename, MosDef, Lupe Fiasco, Qtip, Ali Shaheed Mohamed, the list goes on.

Bay Area Beats: Tajai Massey

Aug 30, 2018
Bo Walsh / KALW News

For the past 25 years, Oakland’s Hieroglyphics crew has been a staple in the Bay Area underground hip hop scene. As one of the founding members of Oakland’s Hieroglyphics, Tajai Massey and his group Souls of Mischief became household names with their classic hit "‘93 til Infinity". In this edition of Bay Area Beats Tajai talks about juggling his careers in music and architecture as well as the importance of the Hiero Day Festival which has quickly become an Oakland tradition.

Bay Area Beats: ASTU

Jul 31, 2018
Lara Kaur


With the 2018 release of her debut album “Patterns”;  Eritrean-American singer and songwriter ASTU explores her experiences of love, redemption and black womanhood. The songstress’ path has taken her from being a former minister in Oklahoma all the way to finding a new sense of self and belonging in the city of Oakland.